Dan Guild reflects on the weekend’s two game-changing events, which have no precedent in Democratic presidential campaigns. -promoted by Laura Belin
“Events dear boy, events” – attributed to to British Prime Minister Harold McMillan, though whether he said it is disputed.
I have spent a good amount of time studying primary polling. The single most important lesson I have learned is that they are subject to sudden change. It is why I love the McMillan quote – it captures how unpredictable events can rapidly change the political calculus.
This weekend we saw two race-changing events in 24 hours: Joe Biden’s decisive win in South Carolina and the sudden departure of Pete Buttigieg, the winner of the Iowa caucuses (depending on how you measure the results). These two events in combination are impossible to model. The Iowa winner has never withdrawn this early. A front-runner has never performed so badly as Biden has before South Carolina and then recovered.
Having said that, I think history offers two parallels: